A Case Study of Transit Demand Modeling and Transportation Planning at North Carolina State University
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Policy Questions: How should a large urban university make short-term trade-offs in its provision of transit service to a new, multi-use library that is expected to shift demand towards new transit policies? How should the goals of transportation and campus planning fit into a larger decision-making process for university development? Recommendations: Based on the emerging preference among the NCSU community for rapid, direct bus services between major trip generators and in particular between Main Campus and Centennial Campus, these recommendations focus on short-term route adjustments and long-term changes in service delivery. The short-term route changes to the Wolfline system can meet demand at the Hunt Library without incurring substantial changes in existing service patterns or increases in transit resources. The long-term route changes impact the larger issues of campus planning and community engagement that NC State Transportation must address as Centennial Campus becomes a larger and more multi-use part of the campus. Short-term transit demand analysis at Hunt Library: 2012—2013 • Re-route 3A Centennial Express and 8 Southeast Loop to stop at Hunt Library via Main Campus Drive and Partners Way • Do not change frequencies on 8 Southeast Loop • Move one bus from 3 Engineering to 3A Centennial Express to improve frequencies • Increase daily end of 3A Centennial Express service from 6:30 PM to 9:54 PM Long-term campus development planning and transit planning: 2015—2022 • Wolfline service o Shift focus on Wolfline service from circulating loops to prioritize rapid, high-frequency service between campus precincts via major transit hubs and trip generators with limited stops o Develop express bus service between Hunt Library and D.H. Hill Library with limited stops along North and Central Campus precincts o Shift express bus service to corridor between Hunt Library and Talley Student Center following completion of renovations • Development of parking decks for parking supply o Ensure that each campus precinct has sufficient parking for people traveling to precinct o Maintain sufficient surface parking around campus buildings to permit access for facilities vehicles and emergency service vehicles • Pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure o Implement reductions in automobile access on Dan Allen Drive to improve pedestrian safety o Increase bike and pedestrian safety at Avent Ferry and Western intersection • NCSU community outreach o Communicate clear service standards for Wolfline operations to NCSU community to set expectations about public transportation services Stress the use of the TransLoc app to make wait times more predictable o Communicate the Wolfline system upgrades and benefits that students, faculty, staff and corporate partners receive from their student fee and parking fee contributions o Communicate all restrictions in automobile access as early and as directly as possible to give opportunities for community feedback and travel behavior adjustment o Update Office of University Architect and Centennial Campus Development Office on transit technologies and infrastructures at all levels: NCSU; City of Raleigh; North Carolina Context for Case Study: This project uses North Carolina State University as a case study for transit planning at large urban university campuses and focuses on a new capital project, a large, multi-use library called the James B. Hunt Jr. Library located on the Centennial Campus of NCSU, a newer satellite campus precinct that is currently undergoing expansion. The NCSU Transportation Department will be responsible for providing public transit service (the Wolfline) for students, faculty and staff who want to travel to and from the Hunt Library, which is scheduled to open in the winter of 2013. Many departments attached to the Hunt Library and Centennial Campus view the Library as a flagship building that will raise the profile of NCSU and will transform the Centennial Campus from “an office park environment” to a “campus environment,” with greater student and pedestrian activity. Since the building will likely have a significant impact on a rapidly developing campus precinct, NC State Transportation must evaluate the potential demand for traveling to and from the Hunt Library that students, faculty and staff demonstrate to determine the impact that the Library will have on the Wolfline system. This expansion of transit service is one of several changes in transit operations that NC State Transportation is evaluating in its Campus Mobility Plan. The goal of the Campus Mobility Plan is to outline the changes in funding, service provision and streetscape infrastructure that are necessary to create an “enhanced multimodal campus transportation system” over the next ten years. Because the Campus Mobility Plan has far-reaching impact on the physical design of the campus, NC State Transportation will be communicating with and working with numerous departments across the NCSU Administration. Representatives from these departments serve as Advisory Stakeholders to the CMP and have the opportunity to share their visions for the Hunt Library and NCSU transportation in general with the Department at planning meetings. Methodology: This report bases its analysis on three evaluations. The first evaluation is an estimation of ridership and transit demand at the Hunt Library based on trip generation rates at the Library as a function of the Library’s net assignable square footage. This report compares these estimates to trip generation rates at the D.H. Hill Library and distributes the number of daily trips that each building generates into trips in to the library and trips out of the library and into low-demand morning hours and high-demand afternoon and evening hours. This analysis takes this system of trip generation and distribution from the Institute of Transportation Engineers’ Trip Generation Report and applies the system to both libraries. The second and third evaluations are both qualitative. The second evaluation extrapolates trends in stated preferences from two surveys that NC State Transportation conducted in the Fall of 2011: a Customer Satisfaction Survey that the Department distributed to a sample of students, faculty and staff; and an Engineering Student Survey that the Department distributed to a sample of first-years, sophomores and juniors who have a major in the College of Engineering. Both surveys evaluate student preferences for Wolfline services and ask students to predict their interest in using the Hunt Library and their travel behaviors to and from the Library. The third evaluation is a series of interviews with members of the NCSU community who are serving as Advisory Stakeholders for the Campus Mobility Plan. The author interviews each stakeholder to obtain the stakeholder’s perspective on the current services that NC State Transportation offers to the larger community and those that the Department plans on providing. Specifically, these interviews focus on Wolfline services, parking services, the design and planning of campus transportation infrastructure, and the Hunt Library. Findings: 1. Assuming a seven-percent mode share for Wolfline services, estimated levels of demand for Wolfline services at the Hunt Library are within the system’s current capacity and NC State Transportation can meet this demand with small changes to existing services. 2. The Customer Satisfaction Survey and the Engineering Student Survey reflect that the Wolfline service plays an important role in students’ mobility on a daily basis and that students show a high level of familiarity with the information technologies that NC State Transportation uses to promote its services and notify riders about changes and updates. 3. Students’ priorities for service improvements focus on greater frequency, longer evening service hours, and more connections between Main Campus and Centennial Campus. 4. The Customer Satisfaction Survey and the Engineering Student Survey show high levels of interest in the Hunt Library and high levels of demand for travel between Main Campus and Centennial Campus. 5. The results of the stakeholder analysis show substantial support for an increase in public transportation services and for greater connectivity between Main Campus and Centennial Campus. Many stakeholders express significant concern for reducing automobile access on Main Campus and promoting the development of parking decks over surface parking. Stakeholders also express opposition for increasing parking fees or transportation fees to fund an increase in Wolfline services. Support for greater pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure is present, but opinions are more muted. 6. Many stakeholders state a preference for direct, limited-stop services between major trip generators with low travel times and high frequencies and believe that the growth of Centennial Campus will create greater demand for these services. They assert that NC State Transportation should prioritize these services in its future route planning. 7. Many stakeholders stress that the Department should engage with the NCSU community more directly and openly about the opportunities and limitations of a public transit system and its ability to enhance mobility and connectivity across the campus. 8. Several stakeholders believe that NC State Transportation should increase its investments in transportation infrastructure and develop high-speed, high-frequency transit services that are more capital-intensive than the current Wolfline system, including light rail transit and bus-only corridors.
DepartmentThe Sanford School of Public Policy
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